Friday 29 May, 2020

NIDS ruling a ‘victory for democracy’ - Scott-Mottley

Donna Scott-Mottley

Donna Scott-Mottley

Opposition Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott-Mottley, has described majority decision of the Constitutional Court to strike down the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Act last Friday as a “victory for democracy”.

Scott-Mottley made the remark while addressing a press conference on Friday, shortly after Chief Justice Bryan Sykes made public, the long-awaited ruling of the Constitutional Court via live streaming.

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) had brought a challenge to the controversial law, arguing that it breached constitutional rights of Jamaicans, which are guaranteed in the Charter of Rights.

According to Scott-Mottley, going to court was the only way to convince the Government to "make a bad job better”.

Said Scott-Mottley further: “There is no half-way house when it comes to people’s rights. If you allow those rights to be eroded under the guise of fighting criminality or under the guise of needing to move to a different economy and making money for the country, you’re going to find yourself sliding down a slippery slope where, before you know it, your Government forgets that we voted for them, and you’re staring at a dictatorship and wondering how you got there.”

She noted that for opposing aspects of the NIDS, the PNP was accused of being “backward, anti-technology and bad-minded”.

Now she said the reality has hit home.

“This judgment has vindicated (us of) those remarks, and has shown that we were simply doing our duty as the Opposition. We are the last bastion. We are here to protect the people from the excesses of a bad Government,” she asserted.

Scott-Mottley argued that the NIDS was the “most significant piece of legislation that was enacted in recent times”. She said it would have impacted every Jamaican at home and in the Diaspora.

“So the consequences were serious. We feel validated that the court has shared our concerns, the court has reflected exactly what we have been saying from the outset, and has found that this legislation breaches our constitutional rights,” said the Opposition spokesperson.

She said she was "happy that our judges have demonstrated their boldness and their courage and their independence from the Government.”

Scott-Mottley said the Opposition was not exultant because the ruling has gone in its favour. Rather, she reminded that the Opposition had implored the Government “over and over again to just simply listen to us as we were acting without malice. We were not acting in a partisan way. We were acting as Jamaicans concerned about the consequences of breaching the constitutional rights of Jamaicans.”

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